Starmus Day 4 highlights

Posted by David Eicher
on Thursday, June 29, 2017

Columbia University economist Jeffrey Sachs delivers an inspiring and brilliant address on how politics in the United States have been corrupted by dark money, Spektrum Hall, Trondheim, Norway, June 21, 2017.

Starmus IV in Trondheim commenced its fourth day, Wednesday, June 21, 2017, with the usual morning activities. The first major event was a talk by Lisa Randall on a possible connection between dark matter and the extinction of the dinosaurs. Following this, the afternoon sped ahead with a major address that was inspiring and resulted in a standing ovation from the Festival crowd. Jeffrey Sachs, economist at Columbia University, described how dark money has corrupted American politics, influencing votes by various members of the U.S. Senate. He provided an analysis of senatorial votes on the Paris Climate Accord and the attached monies received by various voting senators. It‘s a shameful situation that’s directly tied to voting against measures that would curb global warming. 

Following Sachs, filmmaker Oliver Stone delivered a somewhat rambling talk that was supposed to address fact and fiction in creating motion pictures, of all things. (Stone made the historically preposterous film JFK among others.) He delivered an account about the Manhattan Project that was almost entirely inaccurate (I know — my father worked on the project), and then got into all sorts of areas of conspiracy theory. It was unusual. 

Oliver Stone delivers a rather unorthodox talk covering truth in films, Spektrum Hall, Trondheim, Norway, June 21, 2017.

We then heard about economics, capital, and innovation from Nobel Prize winning economist Finn Kydland. 

Nobel Prize winning Norwegian economist Finn Kydland talks about innovation and economic policy, Spektrum Hall, Trondheim, Norway, June 21, 2017.

Centering on the era of post-truth and fake news, Larry King was then joined by Garik Israelian for a highly entertaining discussion between the two of them. That was a highlight of the Festival, and at 83, Larry is still very funny!

A fantastic free-form discussion between Garik Israelian and Larry King, Spektrum Hall, Trondheim, Norway, June 21, 2017.

As always, the day just kept going and going. We heard from Nobel Prize winning economist Chris Pissarides, and from Jaan Tallin on Artificial Intelligence. And then another highlight occurred: Larry King hosted a “108 minute round table” discussion meant to honor the flight length time of Yuri Gagarin, with Neil deGrasse Tyson, Eugene Kaspersky, Oliver Stone, Finn Kydland, and Chris Pissarides. The discussion about science in the future, where it’s all going, was lively. 

The 108-minute “World on Fire” panel discussion, moderated by Larry King and including Oliver Stone, Chris Pissarides, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Eugene Kaspersky, and Finn Kydland, Spektrum Hall, Trondheim, Norway, June 21, 2017.

And then the day really rocked out. Sans orchestra, Steve Vai and friends put on a lengthy, all-out rock ‘n’ roll concert that was absolutely mesmerizing. The friends included Nuno Bettancourt, Devin Townsend, Grace Potter, and — by video link — Joe Satriani. I told Steve later that I had rarely heard someone play and sound just like Jimi Hendrix. He smiled. It was really mindblowing. Exhaustion. A midnight nightcap. And sleep once again. 

Steve Vai and Joe Satriani play together via video link, Spektrum Hall, Trondheim, Norway, June 21, 2017.

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